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Chapter 2 Ghosts of Christmas Past & Present
Helena gazed down at her sleeping lover. She had woken early as usual, and unable to go back to sleep she watched Myka as she slept. Outside snow was falling. It almost felt like they were alone in the universe during these quiet hours in the early morning. Helena jumped when she heard the door opening. She quickly grabbed her shirt and pulled it over her head. A moment later the door eased open and a tiny little person stood there looking at Helena with large eyes, a teddy bear under her arm. Helena recognized it. It used to be Myka's. She smiled at the girl and waived her over.
Mina pushed the door close and walked over to Helena's side of the bed. She raised her arms for Helena to lift her up.
"What are you doing up little one?" Helena whispered as she moved so she could make room for Mina under the covers.
Mina giggled and snuggled closer to her. "I can't sleep."
Helena smiled. "Do you want to sleep here?"
Mina shook her head. "Not sleepy."
"All right, I guess you and I will just snuggle until Myka wakes up," she whispered and smiled at her.
Mina nodded. She looked at Helena with big dark eyes. "Christina wants to talk to you," she whispered.
Helena flinched and stared at her. "How do you know about Christina darling?"
Mina smiled. "She comes and visits me."
Helena gasped. She had heard about children with unique gifts who were able to see spirits, but she had always pushed it away as swindle stories, just like the mediums performing séances which used to be so popular in her day. She pulled Mina up so she was sitting on her lap. Grabbing the bed spread she draped it over her like a cape to keep her warm. Mina giggled and pulled it over her head.
"What did Christina want to say to me?" Helena asked as she pushed the bead spread away from Mina's face.
Mina put her hand on Helena's cheek. "She said she misses you and that she loves you."
Helena covered her mouth with her hand.
Myka stirred as the soft voices finally brought her out of her dream state. She blinked and looked at Helena, then quickly grabbed the sheet and tucked it around her when she saw Mina.
"Mina, what are you doing up?" she asked.
Mina smiled. "Not sleepy."
Myka made a face. "Santa won't come any sooner just because you're up."
Mina giggled. "Santa's been here," she whispered.
Myka chuckled and shook her head.
Helena gently grabbed Myka's arm. "Darling, Mina says she's spoken to Christina," she whispered.
Myka sat up straight, holding on to the sheet when it started to slide down. "What?" she blurted out staring at the girl.
Mina smiled. "She plays with me."
Myka stared at Helena. "Could it be an artifact?"
Helena shrugged. "I don't know. I've heard about children with extremely sensitive psyches. I always assumed that it was just a way of getting attention."
Myka looked at Mina. "What does Christina look like?"
Mina smiled. "She has long, dark hair, like Helena's, but not as dark. Her eyes are like hers too. She wears a white dress and funny boots. She has a dolly that she loves."
Helena started to shake. "That's what she looked like in my vision. And the doll, she loved that doll," she whispered, clearly shaken.
Mina tilted her head. "Do you want to see her?"
Helena stared at her. "Of course I do darling, but it's not possible. She's " she couldn't make herself say the words to the girl. "She's an angel now darling," she whispered.
Mina sighed impatiently and shook her head. "She's here."
Helena looked around the room, but saw no trace of anything. Then suddenly a white glow started over by the window. A moment later the eerie remnants of Helena's daughter smiled at them.
"Oh god," Helena said with a sob and covered her mouth.
Christina's ghost walked across the room until she was standing next to the bed. Helena started to reach out for her, but let her hand fall.
"Christina, is it really you?"
Christina giggled and nodded. "It's really me mummy."
Helena laughed and tears rolled down her cheeks. "I've missed you so much my darling."
"I know. I miss you too mummy."
Myka just stared at the ghost of Helena's daughter. Damn it Myka Bering, you do not believe in ghosts, she scolded herself. But how could she explain that all three of them were seeing the vision of Christina. She started to move when Christina looked straight at her. She froze.
"You are pretty," she said to Myka.
"Thank you," Myka said with a half grin.
"You make my mummy very happy."
Myka looked at Helena who nodded. She took her hand when she felt Helena reach for her.
"Mummy," Christina said seriously. "I don't want you to be sad anymore."
Helena smiled at her and reached out to touch her again. Her hand moved through thin air. She sighed and closed her eyes.
Mina looked at Christina for a moment and then the two little girls moved closer to each other. Christina held out her hand and Mina put her tiny little hand in hers. Helena and Myka watched in awe as Christina started to change, becoming more solid. Finally she looked just as real as the last time Helena saw her.
"Christina?" Helena asked hesitantly.
Christina smiled and touched her cheek. Helena covered her little hand and pressed it against her cold skin.
"Oh my god," she whispered.
Mina moved closer to Myka and put her arms around her neck. Together they watched Helena hug Christina and pull her up on her lap. She kissed her face, her forehead and hugged her close.
"Oh darling, mummy has missed you so much."
Christina smiled and kissed her cheek. "I know. That's why I stayed. I had to wait until you were free, before I could go."
"Go where darling?" Helena asked confused.
"There," she said and pointed towards a spot on her left. Helena looked in the direction but saw nothing. "The light," she explained.
Helena shook her head. "No, no, no. I can't lose you again," she wailed. She crushed Christina against her chest as tears streamed down her cheeks.
"It's all right mummy. It's how it must be. They are waiting for me, and I will be waiting for you when you one day will be ready to come to me."
"Who's waiting for you?" Helena asked concerned.
"Grandmama, and grandpapa, Vincent and Caroline, Sophie, Smudge and Cassie, and all the others," she said and smiled.
Helena closed her eyes. Myka could feel her shake and gently put a hand on her arm. She jumped when Christina touched her hand.
"Mummy needs you. I know you love her very much. I am very happy that she has you."
Myka made a strangled sound and nodded.
Helena held Christina close, just enjoying holding her again. She smelled the same. She felt so happy and full of joy she never wanted it to end. She startled when Christina stirred in her arms.
"It's time mummy. I have to leave now."
Helena's tears started again. "No," she whispered.
Myka watched in fascination as Christina put her hands on Helena's cheeks and a soft glow engulfed the two of them. At first she worried for Helena, but as the glow touched her she could feel the love. She realized that Christina was healing Helena's heart. When the soft light finally dimmed she saw calmness in Helena's eyes that had not been there before.
"I will always be with you mummy."
Helena nodded. "Always."
"You couldn't have changed what happened to me. No one could. It wasn't your fault mummy. I love you," she said and kissed Helena's cheek.
"I love you too darling, so very, very much," Helena whispered. She held on to Christina's hand as she slipped off the bed.
Myka watched silently as Christina took a couple of steps away from the bed. Her hand slipped out of Helena's. A couple of more steps and she started to shimmer again until she was gone.
"Christina!" Helena cried out and reached for her.
"I love you mummy. Be happy with Myka. I'll be waiting for you. It will be many years still. Live your life to the fullest mummy."
Helena cried and sobbed as they heard Christina's voice mix with a chorus of other voices talking to Helena. Myka put the now sleeping Mina down between them and reached for Helena. She held her as she cried. Finally they fell asleep, hands clasped over the sleeping child between them.
Myka groaned as she was again jolted out of a pleasant dream. This time by the bed shaking violently. She turned and looked at the culprit. Mina was bouncing up and down on the bed.
"It's Christmas. Santa's been here," she cried out happily.
Myka laughed and grabbed her. "No jumping on the bed young lady. You'll wake Helena."
"Too late. I'm already awake," Helena mumbled from under the covers.
Myka put Mina down on the floor. "Go and wake Uncle Pete honey. We'll be down in a minute."
Mina ran to the door on silent feet, her pink feetie pajamas making her as silent as a cat. She watched her leave, closing the door behind her. Myka turned to Helena. They looked at each other for a long moment.
"I had the craziest dream," Myka mumbled.
Helena sighed and closed her eyes. Then she sat straight up in bed.
"Helena?" Myka said slightly concerned.
Helena grabbed the bed spread and smelled it. "It smells like her," she whispered. She pulled it closer and something fell on the floor. She leaned down and picked it up. It was an old-fashioned doll with dark hair. Helena started to shake. "It wasn't a dream," she whispered.
Myka gaped. "It was real? She was really here?"
They looked at each other realizing that they had the same memory. Helena threw herself at Myka crying. Myka held her and gently caressed her hair. When Helena finally pulled away she was calmer. She looked at the doll in her hands and smiled.
"I had this made for her. It looks like her."
Myka grinned. "I guess you should have the rights to American Girl doll then," she teased.
Helena looked confused.
"It's a store where little girls can design their own dolls to look just like them."
Helena smiled and nodded. "I see. Well, that's what this doll was meant to be. Christina's baby. All the doll clothes were tailor made copies of Christina's clothes. I even took her shopping at Hamleys on Regent Street for all sorts of things for that doll."
Myka smiled. "No wonder it was her favorite."
Helena startled. "How did you know that?"
"Helena, I remember it too. It wasn't a dream. I can't explain it. Perhaps it's the magic of Christmas? I really don't know."
Helena smiled. "Some cultures believe that magical things happen on this night. That animals can speak and that wishes come true."
"She's happy now hon and she wants you to be happy too."
Helena nodded. "I could hear all of them, my parents, my brother, relatives, old lovers, and most of all Christina," she whispered. "They were all telling me how much they loved me, and how they wanted me to be happy."
Myka smiled and caressed her hair. "Live your life to the fullest," she said softly.
Helena's head snapped up. "You heard that too?"
"I used to say that to her all the time."
Myka smiled. "I thought it odd for a child to say that. Now it makes much more sense."
"She was very bright for her age. She always asked questions and wanted explanations for things. I spent a lot of time with her, so I am probably to blame for her sounding too mature for her age."
"If you're to be blamed for anything, it's for loving her unconditionally," Myka said and kissed her.
"She likes you. I knew she would," Helena whispered.
"I'm very glad that I got the chance to meet her, even if it was only for a brief moment."
Helena nodded and slipped out of bed. She walked over to the spot where Christina had disappeared into the light and moved her hands as if searching for something in thin air. She sighed when she felt nothing but cold air. She shivered.
Myka grinned at her. "As alluring as you look in just a short shirt I think you should put on something else. I don't want you to freeze your cute behind off."
Helena chuckled, the somber mood broken. She faced Myka. "You like this look?" she teased and ran her hand over her chest to come to rest over her pubic hair.
Myka swallowed and nodded. "Helena," she warned. "Don't start anything. We need to go downstairs, or they will come looking for us."
Helena sighed and nodded. She put on the yoga pants that Myka had given her and took the offered robe from Myka. After some rummaging around in her drawer she found the socks she wanted. Finally dressed she put on her new slippers, an early present from Myka. She turned to Myka who was dressed similarly, except for her fuzzy slippers. Helena held out her hand.
Myka took her hand and stepped closer until she could kiss her. "Merry Christmas baby," she whispered against Helena's lips.
Myka held Helena's hand as they walked downstairs. She stopped for a moment on the landing.
"We have to tell Artie," she said softly.
"I know," Helena said with a sigh.
"Please don't take this the wrong way hon, but we need to make sure that there's no foul play here. We need to have the doll tested."
Helena stared at her. "You think it's an artifact."
Myka shrugged. "I don't know, but we need to be sure."
Quick steps on the stairs interrupted their conversation.
"There you are. I thought you would sleep all day," Pete said and grinned. "There's breakfast and prezzies."
Myka laughed and shook her head. "Merry Christmas Pete."
"Oh yeah, Merry Christmas you two."
"Merry Christmas," Helena said softly.
He looked at her and smiled. "It really is now. Thank you for being Myka's best Christmas present."
Helena smiled and looked at Myka. "Is that what I am darling?"
Myka grinned and bit her lip. "Yeah," she whispered and kissed her.
"Ehem," Pete said embarrassed and cleared his throat. They pulled apart laughing at him.
Helena glanced around the room and took in each smiling face. It was her first real Christmas in this crazy new country. Many things about it were so different from what she was used to, especially the food. At least they had turkey. She would miss the Christmas pudding. Perhaps next year. She sipped her tea as she contemplated her own thoughts. For the first time she felt hope for the future. She had closure.
"Merry Christmas Helena, from Santa," Pete read and handed the brightly wrapped present to Mina who skipped over to Helena.
"Merry Christmas," she said and grinned.
Helena took it from her and caressed her cheek. "Thank you darling." She looked at the box and ran her fingers over the glossy paper. She read the card, not recognizing the handwriting.
"Open it!" Claudia said impatiently, her fingers itching to rip the wrapping off to see what was inside.
Helena smiled at her as she slowly unwrapped the gift. She opened the box and peeked inside. She covered her mouth with her hand as she gasped. "Oh god," she whispered.
"What is it?" Claudia asked impatiently.
Helena reached into the box with shaking hands. She pulled out what looked like a leather photo album. The name Christina Wells and the date May 16, 1891 in gold lettering was still visible in the right corner. "I thought this was lost," she mumbled to herself. She opened it and read the inscription as a tear rolled down her cheek.
Myka was instantly by her side and put a supportive arm around her. "What is it Helena?"
"It's the photographic diary I made of Christina," she whispered.
"Christina's baby book?" Claudia gasped and walked over. She sat down on the armrest on the other side peeking over Helena's shoulder. "Is that her hair?"
Helena nodded. "Her first haircut. I saved it," she whispered as she caressed the soft lock of hair.
Myka smiled. "My mom did that too."
Helena closed the album and put her hand on top. "I think I want to savor this for later," she said softly. She glances around the room again and stopped briefly to look each of them in the eyes. "Thank you, all of you for being my new family. I love you all."
Claudia put her arm around Helena's shoulders and gave her a half hug. "Love you too man."
Helena chuckled. "Why do you keep calling me man Claudia? I would've thought that you knew by now that I'm a woman."
Claudia shrieked with laughter. "It's just an expression dude."
Helena raised an eyebrow. "There you go again darling."
"I can help verifying that if you need me to," Pete offered with a leer and a hand gesture that left little to the imagination.
Myka threw a pillow at him. "You stay away from my girlfriend's Tetons."
Pete roared with laughter.
Helena looked amused at her. "You do know what that means in French don't you darling?"
Pete laughed harder and Myka blushed. "I know," she hissed. "And there's no way in hell I'll let him touch them."
Helena laughed. "He won't. At least not if he wants to keep his coquilles*."
Pete stopped laughing. "Okey dokey, not funny anymore. Let's get back to the presents."
Myka got up and stretched. She yelped when Helena pulled her down on her lap. She kissed her softly and snuggled in. This was the best Christmas ever.
* French slang for balls
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